More to come grading the Republican speechifying–but here Douthat parses what the rhetoric behind Ryan’s speech means, in his view:
Ryan is a practical and highly-ambitious politician, not some starry-eyed policy idealist, and conservatives tempted to hero-worship him need to recognize the ease with which the necessary compromises of politics can shade into something more corrosive.
What we’re watching in this campaign could be Paul Ryan taking the steps required to bring his ideas to fruition. Or it could be Paul Ryan taking the steps required to help his party and his political career, while compromising his best reform ideas more profoundly than he should. But this is something that can’t be settled at a political convention, or in the heat of a campaign. We’ll have to wait and see if Romney-Ryan wins, in which case the proof will be in the policy.